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  1. #1
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Crack on drywall or beam?

    I see cracks on both sides of the beam which is at the middle of the house for supporting the floor of 2nd floor. The beam may be covered by drywall. The attached 2 photos show the 2 sides of the wall which has the crack at the exactly same location and direction.

    Please help me to discuss whether it is due to the crack of beam or just the drywall. Thanks!!

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  2. #2
    Ray Norton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    It appears that you are referring to a header for a doorway that supports a second floor.

    I am assuming that there is a basement or crawl below. If so, I have seen this on more than a few occassions. My guess, without being able to go below, is that the jack stud on this side of the header lands between the floor joists below and does not have the required squash block to transfer this weight properly to the beam.

    Squash blocks are frequently overlooked. When this happens the plywood subloor deflects causing the jack stud and header to sink/ float putting stress on the sheetrock, which causes the drywall to crack.

    Installing a squash block after-the-fact is a pita but it can be done.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    Lack of support (as Ray mentions) or just a twisting header. Lumber often changes shape as it dries, usually within a year or so of construction. Is this a newer house or installation?

    This is a very frequent problem in newer houses due to the relatively crappy lumber used these days and the lack of proper drying prior to building.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    Have you put a spirit level on the vertical portion side and horizontal (header) to see if they are plumb and level? Is the floor level in the area?


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    I agree it could be a point load at the bottom or the liner studs under the header were not cut super tight.

    Joseph Ehrhardt
    Building Forensic Specialist LLC

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    I view these types of cracks as symptoms of the floor system having gone through some level of sag or deflection. The cause of deflection could be the weight of the partition walls, furniture, people, or all three. It may not be significant enough to warrant repairs but the cutout opening for a doorway is the weakest part of a wall and the spot where signs of deflection on a floor are most likely to show. I see these type of cracks every week around here. It is a very common condition from my experience.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    What is the age of the house? What is below this floor? Renovation or new construction? Fresh crack or old crack?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  8. #8
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    The house is about 55 years old without significant remodeling in 40 years. The bathroom was remodeled in April, 2010, which is more than 10 feet from the cracked location. The cracked location corresponds to a beam at the middle line of the house. There is hallway and wall on the 2nd floor above the cracked location. There is also a wall in the basement which corresponds to the cracked location. The cracks were shown in these few months (beginning sometime from Dec, 2010 to 2 weeks ago).

    The cracks are on the ceiling of 1st floor. The cracks under the wide doorway is between living room and a hallway/stairway. There is another narrower doorway to kitchen which is about 3-4' away and parallel to the cracked doorway. There are also smaller cracks on the corresponding locations on the drywall of the narrower doorway.

    If it is not due to the crack of beam, doesn't it need to be repaired ASAP?

    Thanks!

    Last edited by Joe Yee; 09-16-2011 at 08:34 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    Thanks for the added info. Drywall does not crack on its own accord, so we can be sure there has been movement of the framing in that area. The age rules out twisting or shrinkage.
    Since there is a supporting wall below this area, the movement could be occurring in the basement. Is there a drainage problem? Looks for movement at the base of the basement wall.
    Or it could be trouble in the floor directly under this doorway. Is termite damage a possibility?

    Last edited by John Kogel; 09-16-2011 at 04:53 PM. Reason: punkchewayshun
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  10. #10
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    Most of the underground pipes of drainage are at north sides of the house. There is an unused pipe of drainage at the middle of house (underground). I am not sure whether there is leak of underground drainage because I don't see wet floor in basement.

    I don't see termites. There is no sink of wall in basement, 1st floor and 2nd floor.

    The wall under the cracked part is empty (I know this because a technician replaced the thermostat of furnace on it and the wires are put inside the wall to the basement in November 2010).


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    As I asked before, have you placed a level on the affected areas?


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    No. I don't have level at home.

    Do you mean the floor of 2nd floor corresponding to the cracked area downstairs should be tested by a level?


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    Each area as you have described should be checked with a level to ascertain if there has been settlement as evidenced by out of plumb/horizontal planes at doorways and floor areas of the door ways.


  14. #14
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    The wall under the cracked portion is vertical to earth (observed from different directions).


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    First off, it would be helpful if you could use the correct terms and better identify the structural framing members by correct terminology and function. Identifying correctly, should help you "discuss" (communicate) your concerns and understand what others tell you about same.

    I suggest you retain the services of a licensed professional on-site.

    Attached is a basic primer/summary guide on residential framing from the American Wood Council. I believe you will find it helpful. It is a 1.55 MB "pdf" type file consisting of a multi-page document complete with a multitude of diagrams, general explanations regarding residential framing, and contains numerous definitons; and may be a useful reference for you as you begin to explore your concerns and enlist information and asssistance from others.

    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 09-17-2011 at 11:50 AM.

  16. #16
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    Some pictures are attached.

    These 3 pictures shows a needle with line along the edge of wall. The cracked part is at the corner.

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    These 2 pictures show the 2nd floor and the wall/floor just above the cracked part of 1st floor.

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  18. #18
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    This picture shows the whole doorway with cracked corner (upper right corner). Another doorway is behind it.

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  19. #19
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    Hallway of 1st floor. The cracked corner is on right side.

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  20. #20
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    The 4 pictures show the wall/floor under the crack part in basement.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    First off, it would be helpful if you could use the correct terms and better identify the structural framing members by correct terminology and function. Identifying correctly, should help you "discuss" (communicate) your concerns and understand what others tell you about same.

    I suggest you retain the services of a licensed professional on-site.

    Attached is a basic primer/summary guide on residential framing from the American Wood Council. I believe you will find it helpful. It is a 1.55 MB "pdf" type file consisting of a multi-page document complete with a multitude of diagrams, general explanations regarding residential framing, and contains numerous definitons; and may be a useful reference for you as you begin to explore your concerns and enlist information and asssistance from others.
    This is the Homeowner's section HG. Some incorrect slang terminology should be expected. BTW.... do you eat a sour lemon before EVERY post or are you just this charming and helpful all the time?


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    Mr. Yee, I think it is clear that there is no substantial sideways or lateral movement there. We are wondering if there has been any downward movement of the wall at either end of the archway. There is no visual indication of movement in the basement.
    If you are confident that the floor joists directly below this area are sound, free of rot or termite activity, it is hard to say why the cracking has occurred there and nowhere else.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  23. #23
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    John and other friends, Thank you!!

    I am not confident that the floor joists directly below this area are sound, free of rot or termite activity because I am not expert and have not seen the inner situation.

    The house was purchased in May 2009. The wall was probably painted 6-12 months before May 2009.

    I am not sure that the surface of the doorway is drywall or other material because the house is old. I can insert a needle into the crack from a few mm to 22 mm (the needle is vertical to the wall). The thickness of the wall is 132 mm. If the beam is not crack, the thickness of the beam is about 88 mm (=132-2x22). Is it reasonable?


  24. #24
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    Can I inject water by syringe from one side of the wall through the crack as close the ceiling as possible and check whether there is water from another side of the wall through the crack?

    I am not sure there is anything which may be damaged by water.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    No don't do that. The wallboard is almost certainly drywall, and there is no reason to investigate further in that area. The wood frame is flexible and the drywall is not. That is why cracks appear. A movement of a fraction of an inch has little effect on the framework, but will show up as a drywall or plaster crack.
    Roll a steel bearing or marble across the floor and see if there is a low spot on the floor at the base of the arch.
    You want to know if the movement will continue, and that question we can't answer. Fill the crack with plaster and see if that area cracks again.
    Have a builder or home inspector take a look at the house.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  26. #26
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    After testing with a small ball, it is shown that the floor on 2nd floor is not level (see pictures in previous replies). The location closed to the bookshelf is lower than the location above the beam.

    However, I found the floor on 1st floor is not level.


  27. #27
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    There is possibly a duct of heating in it.


  28. #28
    Joe Yee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crack on drywall or beam?

    I have just found that there is old crack on the left side of the doorway (see attachment) which has been covered by paint (The house was bought 2.5 years ago).

    Does it mean the house has changed in longitudinal direction?

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